5 Things to Know about the Tableau 9.1 Web Data Connector
1. What is it?
In order to make use of a WDC you need no programming experience what so ever. If you’re aware of a WDC you want to make use, of all you need to know is the URL to access it at. Simply select ‘Web Data Connector’ from the connection list, enter or paste the URL of the WDC into the appropriate window and follow instructions presented by the WDC. Each WDC is unique and its interface depends on how the author has designed it.
3. So how is the data stored? Is it live?
While the connector may be pointed at what feels like a live database (via a web service API for instance) the data is always stored locally as a Tableau Data Extract and so is only ‘live’ at the point of connection. That doesn’t mean that the data can’t be refreshed either manually or scheduled on a Tableau Server (version 9.1 or greater), as long as the connector author has stored the relevant authentication credentials as required to continually access the resource.
The Tableau Web Data Connector is expected to be released with Tableau 9.1 and as I type is currently available for testing by end users through the beta program (to get access to the beta program as a Tableau customer contact your account manager or email email@example.com). While presence in the beta program doesn’t guarantee release in 9.1 it is a good sign. Really it depends on user feedback and unexpected instability from working with other people’s code.
5. Are there any prebuilt connectors I can play with?
Sure there are! If there’s anything the Tableau community is known for it’s adopting new versions fast (even betas) and making the most of new features.
From around the community you’ll find:
Quandl – http://www.theinformationlab.co.uk/data/quandl.html
Boris Bikes – http://jdunkerleytableau.azurewebsites.net/Bikes
Import.IO – http://connectors.poc.interworks.com/importio
Mapbox Directions (car, bike & walking) – http://www.theinformationlab.co.uk/data/directions.html
Fitbit – http://www.theinformationlab.co.uk/data/fitbit.html
Moves – http://www.theinformationlab.co.uk/data/moves.html
Strava – http://www.theinformationlab.co.uk/data/strava.html
To make use of one of these connectors fire up your latest beta copy of Tableau 9.1, select Web Data Connector from the connections menu, copy and paste one of the above URLs into the connector screen and follow instructions.
(If you’re a WDC author and I’ve missed you off drop the link in a comment below and I’ll add your handywork to the list)